The gaming industry has seen a continuous boom over the past couple of decades. Where developers would once be lucky to make thousands from their titles, some are now raking in billions.
These are people who started off as game developers and eventually found success in the video games industry.
Here are 10 industry giants that have made their names in gaming, some for the better and some for the worst. Still, this is an inspiring list of some of the wealthiest game developers for anyone looking to enter the industry.
Along with Mike Harrington, Newell co-founded Valve Corporation – the company behind the Steam platform, Half-life and a host of other titles – and has a net worth estimated at $1.3 billion.
Like several other developers on the list, Newell is a university drop out (Harvard, to be specific). His career began at Microsoft and it was in his 13 years there that he would begin to amass his fortune, becoming a ‘Microsoft Millionaire’, before leaving to form Valve in 1996.
The first of two Japanese developers to make the list, Fukushima is founder of Enix (now known as Square Enix after it merged with Square in 2003). The developer of titles including the Final Fantasy series.
Believed to be worth in the region of $600 million, he launched Enix in 1975 but it wasn’t until 1982 that the company began publishing video games. To this day the Dragon Quest series remains one of their most lucrative titles, having sold in-excess of 35 million copies.
Mattrick was born in Vancouver in 1964 and had launched his own software company, Distinctive Software Inc., by the impressive age of 17. Distinctive was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1991 and it was with EA that Mattrick would spend over 13 years, playing a vital role in the release of such titles as Need for Speed and The Sims.
In 2005 he joined Microsoft as a Senior Vice President, before eventually leaving in 2013 to become the CEO of Zynga in a deal worth an estimated $50 million.
Robert Kotick is CEO and President of Activision Blizzard, the holding company of Activision and Blizzard Entertainment. In 2012 alone he received a cool $65 million salary and his net worth is in the region of $2 billion.
Kotick, another dropout, began developing software in 1983 before moving into the business side of video games in 1991 with the purchase of a 25% share in Activision. Kotick’s goal was to build it into a dominant video game company. Mission accomplished.
Jones is co-founder of Bungie and the creator of the Halo series, which has sold 45 million copies to date. So it’s hardly surprising that his net worth is estimated at $3 billion.
Born in 1971, Jones began his programming career in high school developing software for Apple systems. Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete was his first video game release, and one of the first games ever to utilize network multiplayer.
Sam & Dan Houser
British born brothers and founders of Rockstar Games, Sam and Dan Houser’s list of smash-hit titles is as impressive as their salaries.
Aside from the obvious Grand Theft Auto series, which has sold in excess of 150 million copies, the pair have worked on titles including Bully and Red Dead Redemption to name only two.
Sam Houser alone is worth over $80 million, a fair amount for bringing us one of the greatest video game series of all time.
Andrew & Paul Gower
Another pair of brothers, Andrew and Paul Gower are the co-founders of Jagex Game Studio, the developer behind RuneScape, and together worth in excess of $650 million.
Andrew allegedly began programming at the age of seven and had the idea for RuneScape whilst playing Pacman.
Jason West and Vince Zampella
West and Zampella are the pair behind the Call of Duty franchise, one of the best-selling video game series ever.
Having already made millions from the franchise, they went on to make millions more after winning a lawsuit in which their former employer Activision accused them of breaching their contract and helping rival Dice with their production of the Battlefield games.
Their most recent creation is Titanfall, which shifted 700,000 copies in its first week.
Richard Garriott de Cayeux was born on Independence Day, 1961 and began his gaming career as the creator of cult RPG series Ultima in 1981. His love for game development began at high school in Texas, 1975, where he was given permission to launch his own programming course.
He’s now the head of Portalarium, Inc. and working on Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, a successor to the Ultima series. Garriott’s net worth isn’t known, but in 2008 he spent $30 million on a 12-day trip to the International Space Station, so you get the idea.
Tanaka is the man behind GREE, Inc. and in 2010, at 33 years old, he became Asia’s youngest self-made billionaire.
You may not have heard of GREE, but chances are you’ve played one of their games. They’re the company behind dozens of games and have created a massive social gaming network, currently serving over 230 million active players.
Tanaka launched GREE in 2003 as a hobby from his Tokyo apartment. It wasn’t until he reached 100,000 users before he decided to turn it into a business only to quickly become one of the biggest names in the industry.
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